Come summer, I drive up to our local orchards to stock up on fruits on a weekly basis. The Orchards of Concklin, a family-run farm since 1712, is only a short, scenic drive from my home and only one hour north of Manhattan.
I come home loaded with peaches, nectarines, apricots, cherries, little sweet sugarplums, blueberries, gooseberries, red currants, and even gorgeous heirloom tomatoes. I set my loot in large bowls on one of my counters and it all looks so abundant that I could easily open my own stand!
It seems that my eyes are always much bigger than my stomach, though, and invariably, within a few days, some fruits are too ripe to eat on their own. That’s when I pull out my pots and start making jam.
I’m not a fan of pectin, and I’m not a fan of too-sweet jams (it’s the fruit I want to taste, not the sugar). So I make jam the way my grandmother used to make it (albeit with much less sugar!), by simply simmering the fruits until they are… well, very jammy.
To round off the intense flavor of this peach jam, I add lemon balm from my herb garden and finish with a little Marc de Bourgogne — the French version of Grappa.
This flavorful jam is delicious with a slice of brioche — but downright superb with a cheese tray. I like to serve it with some unripened goat cheese, a semi-soft sheep Camembert, and a strong farmhouse cheddar.
I recommend not making large batches of this jam, though. When the fruits simmer for too long, they loose their fresh flavor. Double the recipe at the most and feast on it without delay!
Peach jam with lemon balm and Marc de Bourgogne
makes 1 1/2 to 2 cups
active time: 45 min
- 2 lbs (905 g) very ripe peaches – unpeeled, pitted and cut in 1/2″ pieces
- 1 1/4 cups organic sugar
- 1 1/2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
- 2 teaspoons very finely chopped lemon balm, or 1 teaspoon very finely chopped lemon verbena (optional)
- 1 tablespoon Marc de Bourgogne or Grappa
- Step 1: Place the peaches and sugar in a large heavy-bottomed pot. Toss well, cover with a cloth and let stand at room temperature for 1 hour until the sugar has dissolved and the fruits have released their juices, stirring a couple of times.
- Step 2: Place the pot over medium-high heat and bring fruits to a boil. Once the mixture is boiling, reduce heat to medium to medium-low. Slow-simmer uncovered for 45 to 55 minutes until the juices have thickened and the fruits look jammy, stirring from time to time. As the mixture gets thicker you will have to stir more frequently so the jam doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pot. Also, as the jam gets thicker and the juices reduce, you will need to reduce the heat between medium-low and low. It is very important for the jam not to simmer too vigorously.
- Step 3: Towards the end of the cooking, start testing the jam for consistency: place a spoonful of the jam on a small plate. Place in the freezer for 5 minutes until chilled. The juices should be like a loose jelly and the fruits thick. If the jam is too loose, then continue simmering, stirring constantly and test again until you achieve the desired consistency. Coarsely mash the jam with a potato masher, making sure to leave some peach pieces for texture. Add the lemon juice, lemon balm (if using) and Marc (or Grappa) stir well and gently simmer for another 5 minutes. Remove from heat, transfer to a bowl to cool to room temperature.
- Cook’s note: Refrigerate up to 2 months. To double the recipe, double all ingredients as well as the cooking time.
Step by Step
Slow simmer jam uncovered for 50 to 60 minutes.
Coarsely mash the jam with a potato masher.
Add the lemon juice, lemon balm (if using) and Marc (or Grappa) stir well and gently simmer for another 5 minutes.